How to Spot a Fake Krugerrand
Identifying a fake Krugerrand is not an impossible task in fact most people can conduct some simple tests themselves and find the majority of fakes fairly quickly. The counterfeiter is depending upon his skill and the buyer’s trust coupled without the hope that the buyer won’t vet the fake. Let’s go over the ways you can identify a fake Krugerrand.
A good way to avoid a fake Krugerrand in the first place is to deal with a reputable expert- ideally a coin dealer specializing Krugerrands. If someone handles Krugerrands on a daily basis, they develop a sense for what a Krugerrand should be, and when it’s not right they know it immediately. Maybe it’s the colour or something about the size that’s just off. Some gold dealers can just pick up a Krugerrand and tell you right off it was genuine or a fake. They keep a few fakes around their shop and can demonstrate his skill and let customers feel the difference. Of course that expertise comes at a cost, typically you’re going to pay a bit more at a dealer than from an online auction or individual.
Gold is a special metal with very specific properties. One of the most obvious when you handle gold is the density or specific gravity. Without going into a lot of technical detail, specific gravity is a measure of how dense one substance is when compared to pure water at a specific temperature and pressure. Because gold is so dense, it’s very difficult to replace with a less valuable metal and still have a passable fake. If you take a look at the specific gravity measurements for some common metals you’ll see that there’s very little in the same range as gold that’s easily obtainable. If you received a platinum fake Krugerrand in place of a regular circulated Kruger you probably wouldn’t have too much reason to complain. Goldlike radioactive elements are not generally available for making fakes and most of the other possible stand ins are expensive, hard to obtain and difficult to work due to brittleness. Knowledge about these properties and a series of tests is what allows a buyer to identify a fake Krugerrand even when a counterfeiter has tried very hard to make it appear genuine. You’ll notice that the South African mint has published data on the weight, diameter and width of the Krugerrands in all their sizes. This is not just trivia but the means you can use to identify a fake Krugerrand.
Now that you’re armed with a little knowledge about gold characteristics let’s get started on the tests. You’re going to need a fine ruler with millimeter markings and a good quality scale which measures accurately in grams. Weigh the Krugerrand.
According to the Rand Refinery here’s what you’re looking for:
Weight looking okay? Great, now measure the diameter:
Now the last test will be the thickness:
If you’re a little overwhelmed about the precision of the testing, there’s a handy little gadget called the KrugerRand checker that will do all the above for you.